Author: - May 1, 2009 - Updated: May 1, 2009
A documentary from Disneynature studios narrated by James Earl Jones and directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Rating: If you’ve seen one of these penguin and polar bear films, you’ve seen them all.
Walking to the 16th Street Mall for lunch one Wednesday afternoon, I came upon a protest rally on the West Steps of the State Capitol. It was a large and raucous crowd. Curious, I ventured closer and saw that it was composed mainly of parents and their kids.
Right away, I surmised this was not going to involve “teabags” or “bongs.”
Instead, there were handwritten signs and placards with slogans such as, “Predate On Your Own Kids,” “Stop Bugging the Bugs” and “‘earth’ is Not MY Home!”
Given the nature of these signs and protesters, I thought it must involve some sort of environmental issue. But it was hard to tell from this removed distance. I then remembered that it was Earth Day, and thought it could be a rally about that. But then the signs seemed sort of out of place for such a celebration, and the crowd seemed unsettled and indignant.
So, I surmised that this was some sort of anti-Earth Day rally. (This did not seem outlandish, as we seem to have rallies against just about everything. Why not against Earth Day?)
As I got closer and mingled with the crowd, I could hear a speaker at a podium on the steps. He was regaling the crowd about a new film called “earth.” The speaker — and the crowd — seemed upset about this film.
As I stood next to a mom and her little girl, who looked to be about 7 years old
and was carrying a sign with a drawing of what looked like a shrimp with the words “Please Don’t Kill the Krill,” I strained to listen to the speaker. Draped in the front of the podium was a picture of the Earth with a big red circle and line through it. He was regaling:
“…is that what you want?! Is it?!”
“No!” shouted the crowd.
“Well, that’s what is happening! And I have had enough! Our kids are being indoctrinated in this … this Hollywood philosophy. You can’t turn on the TV, open a textbook or listen to a grade school teacher and not be faced with a skewed, biased and political view of the environment. Do you want that?!”
“No!,” came the yell from the crowd, including the little girl with the krill sympathies.
“And, now, we have this new film called “earth,” and it’s directed right at our kids! It’s distributed by Disney Movie Studios no less! Disney!”
Gasps were exhaled throughout the crowd.
“How many parents are going to think that, since this is a Disney film, it will be safe for their kids to see and enjoy? That’s right! It’s outrageous!”
Some are heard to repeat, “Outrageous!” including the tot next to me, although she had trouble pronouncing it and it came out, “At cage us!”
“Well, it’s time for us to take a stand! It’s time to let them hear our voices! It’s time we spoke out and took charge of what our kids are being enticed to see. And I say we start with this film! Who’s with me?!”
The crowd cheers, “We are!”
“That’s right! Who wants their kids being shown a film that depicts two vicious, bloodthirsty polar bear cubs as cute little furry huggy bears?! Next thing you know, your kids will be demanding to have one as a pet! We can’t have that!”
“No, we can’t!” came the chant.
“And who wants their kids to see these ‘cuddly’ bears frolicking on the snow and ice with their mom while dad is off working for food as if they are some sort of innocuous ‘nuclear’ family? Next thing you know, your kids will be demanding that you move up to the Arctic to frolic in the snow and be like this bear family! We can’t have that!”
“No, we can’t!”
But I thought I heard someone also chanting something like, “Impeach ‘earth’!”
“And who wants their kids to see an environment where predators — animals that are an essential part of creating balanced ecosystems — portrayed as evil monsters out to kill and eat the young? And with menacing and evil music played whenever a lion, cheetah or shark is on the screen, no less! Next thing you know, your kids will want all coyotes, wolves and hawks wiped out! It’s ‘predatorism’ I say! We can’t have that!”
“No, we can’t!”
“And what about the bugs? Just where the heck are the bugs? Do you want your kids seeing a movie that shows nature without any mention of the insect world — insects that are an absolutely critical part of our environment and without which the planet could not process waste materials, pollinate plants and provide food for the birds and mammals that the film spends all of its time on? It’s ‘insectism’ I say! We can’t have that!”
“No, we can’t!”
“And what about those cute little ducklings who, while leaving the nest high in a tree for the first time are seen plummeting to the ground where they slam into the earth with a thud? Do we want our kids exposed to such horrific imagery? Do you want your kids to have nightmares about those ducklings, and the seals that are seen being chomped in half by a great white shark — in hyper-slow motion no less — or the poor elephant being run down and mauled by a gang of 30 lions at night as it flees for its life? How will you be able to get your kids to sleep? We can’t have that!”
“No, we can’t!”
“And what about the baboons seen wading through a swamp like human kids with their …”
At this point I decided to make my way to lunch. I got the message. As I walked back out through the crowd, I looked across the street from the rally to see a smaller set of protesters. It appeared that they were conducting a counter rally. This rally was clearly not in support of the film, but seemed to be protesting the protesters. As I kept moving away from all the folderol toward the mall, one of the anti-protester’s signs caught my eye.
“Your Hot Air Is Heating Up the Earth”
Doug Young is an award-winning film critic for The Colorado Statesman.